The plot concerns 5 assassins whose objectives and fates converge on a bullet train speeding from Tokyo to Kyoto. Brad Pitt stars as Ladybug, a hitman in a serious career funk, convinced he’s cursed with bad luck (don’t worry, he’s getting some therapy for it.) Pitt, fresh off his first career Oscar win (Best Supporting Actor, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) seems to be having an absolute blast. Ladybug gets to indulge in more physical comedy than any other character and delivers some of the film’s best lines (“Hurt people hurt people“) The speed with which Pitt can develop easy chemistry with a new co-star is foundational to the success of Bullet Train‘s ensemble.
The rest of the ensemble is stacked with talent (there are also some amazing cameos I won’t spoil.) Zazie Beetz and Bad Bunny hop on for a brief stop or two, to hilarious effect. Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor Johnson are excellent as killer brothers, Lemon and Tangerine. Although Lemon’s obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine wears thin at times, his easygoing rapport with Tangerine is one of the film’s greatest strengths. Joey King is less successful as the steely and sociopathic Prince, but she’s not given much to do other than glower and explain her devious plans. Hiroyuki Sanada brings a much-needed seriousness that somewhat balances the otherwise gonzo atmosphere of the film.
Despite the film’s comedic tone, it’s important to acknowledge that is also extremely violent. Barely 5 minutes go by without somebody being shot, stabbed, bitten, gored, or otherwise demolished. The overall comedic attitude of the film does lessen the impact of the violence itself, but nobody would call this a family-friendly movie. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those willing to take the trip, Bullet Train is an absolutely worthwhile thrill ride. Sometimes it feels good to just order the damn fries.